Don’t leave Singapore without taking these measures that protect you from credit card fraud while you travel.
As long as you follow the ancient and long-established custom of paying your credit card bill in full and on time, you will never find yourself in debt. The majority of these rules also apply when traveling overseas, where you are more likely to get distracted, lose your card, or fall victim to credit card fraud.
While merchants typically absorb the costs of fraudulent credit card use, you may end up paying for it if they can prove that you were negligent. The good news is that most card issuers in Singapore implement security measures to prevent fraud from happening. But don’t rely on your credit card provider to protect you.
Here are a few simple steps Singaporeans can take to avoid credit card fraud overseas.
Bring Only One Credit Card With You
Chances are, you probably own two or more credit cards to help you save on dining, petrol, or groceries in Singapore. Useful as they may be at home, there’s no need to bring all of them when you go on holiday overseas. Doing so will just increase the chances of having one lost or stolen.
After packing your bags, make sure to unload your wallet and take only one credit card with you. A good starting point for figuring out the best credit card for overseas use is to check the foreign exchange fees, cross-border transaction fees, and card company fees. In general, you want to choose the card with the lowest fees across the board.
You also want to bring a credit card that rewards you with miles or points for overseas transactions. Credit cards like the Citi PremierMiles Visa Card reward you with 2 miles for every S$1 spent in foreign currencies. If you love eating when you travel, the CIMB Visa Signature Card gives 10% cashback on dining. These rewards often make the cost of foreign transaction fees worth it.
Activate Your Alerts Before You Leave
Call your bank or log on to your online banking to activate email alerts when transactions are made on your credit card. If you prefer to get alerts through SMS, make sure you are able to receive them at your destination. Besides letting you detect any unauthorised use of your card, getting real-time alerts help you stick to your travel budget by reminding you of every purchase you made.
Watch Your Card at All Times
Giving the card to a waitress? Follow her to the counter and see where she swipes it. Just got the card back and it’s wrapped in a receipt? Unwrap it and make sure it’s the same card with your name on it. If she doesn’t get nervous because you seem to be eyeballing her all the time, you are not taking proper care of your credit card.
Identity theft often results from skimming your card, or swapping your card (with an expired replacement) and hoping you don’t notice. If you let this happen, there’s also a chance your bank can claim it was due to your own negligence.
So keep an eye on the card at all times.
Know the Hotline Number of Your Card Issuer
When you misplace the card or have it stolen, your first reaction may be to panic and cry. This is absolutely appropriate, because you are in a heap of trouble. Amidst your tears and sobs however, you must remember the right hotline to call immediately to cancel your card.
If the bank finds that you reported the loss late, they can hold you liable for the charges. “Late reporting” is any period of time deemed reasonable by the bank (i.e. it can be any number of minutes greater than zero).
The sooner you report it, the more likely you are to escape liability.
Some card issuers like American Express have a 24/7 global hotline that’s especially useful for situations like this. When you report your lost card, you can request emergency card replacement, which they can offer as quickly as one business day.
Monitor Your Credit Card Statements After You Return
After your holiday, monitor your credit card statement for the next couple of weeks. Sometimes, scammers wait a while before they use or sell the credit card numbers they collect. Keep a close eye on your accounts because they may charge small purchases, just to see if the number is still active.
If you believe your credit card has been compromised, you can ask your card issuer to cancel your card and give you a new one with a different number.
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By Lauren Dado
Lauren has been a content strategist and digital marketer since 2007. As SingSaver.com.sg’s Content Manager, Lauren edits and publishes personal finance stories to help Singaporeans save money. Her work has appeared in publications like Her World, Asia One, and Women’s Weekly.